CHRIS KUNITZ scored twice during a four-goal second period and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the visiting San Jose Sharks last night, 5-1, for their fifth straight victory.
Pascal Dupuis, Jayson Megna and Kris Letang also scored for Pittsburgh, which snapped San Jose's six-game winning streak. Sidney Crosby added three assists in his 500th career game to push his point total to an NHL-leading 42.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 44 saves for the Penguins against the league's highest-scoring team. Pittsburgh played without star Evgeni Malkin, scratched after sustaining a lower-body injury during the morning skate.
Tomas Hertl got his 14th goal for San Jose. Antti Niemi made 23 saves but was pulled after two periods, and the Sharks lost in regulation for only the fourth time this season.
The showdown between two Stanley Cup contenders quickly turned one-sided after a scoreless first period. The Penguins beat Niemi four times in a span of 7:03, showcasing the firepower that makes the Metropolitan Division leaders heavy favorites to make another deep playoff run next spring.
In other games
* At Montreal, Max Pacioretty scored his ninth goal in the last nine games and the Canadiens stretched their unbeaten run to nine with a 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins. Tomas Plekanec also scored for Montreal (18-9-3), which jumped a point ahead of Boston (18-8-2) into first place in the Atlantic Division.
Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk was taken from the ice on a stretcher after a hit from behind by Montreal's Max Pacioretty.
Boychuk was taken to Montreal General Hospital for observation.
* At Toronto, Trevor Smith scored at 4:18 of overtime to help the Maple Leafs end a five-game skid with a 3-2 victory over the Dallas Stars. The Maple Leafs won for the first time since Nov. 23 despite being outshot for the 10th consecutive game, this time 50-24.
* At Buffalo, Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves to lead the New York Rangers to a 3-1 win over the Sabres.
* At St. Paul, Minn., Marco Scandella's slap shot with 1:48 left, the defenseman's first goal this season, lifted the Minnesota Wild to a 4-3 win over Chicago.
* At Tampa, Martin St. Louis scored two goals, Ben Bishop won his 15th game this season, and the Lightning beat the Ottawa Senators, 3-1.
* At St. Louis, Derek Roy and David Backes scored power-play goals 2:31 apart in the second period to lead the Blues to a 5-1 win over the struggling New York Islanders. St. Louis won for the sixth time in eight games. The Islanders have lost eight straight overall.
* At Sunrise, Fla., Dylan Olsen scored his first NHL goal to help the Florida Panthers beat the Winnipeg Jets, 5-2.
* At Edmonton, Taylor Hall's two goals lifted the Oilers over Colorado, 4-2.
* At Nashville, Jeff Skinner had a hat trick to lead the Carolina Hurricanes to a 5-2 victory over the Predators. Skinner has five goals in the last two games.